How to sell Explora Journeys to the non-cruiser

Chief Sales Officer Chris Austin provides a 101 on how to lure the new-to-cruise

When it comes to selling new ultra-luxury travel operator Explora Journeys, who better to ask than the Chief Sales Officer, Chris Austin.

Explora Journeys is doing a fabulous job positioning itself as an alternative to cruising to the non-cruiser, which is difficult when that’s precisely what it does. The brand avoids the use of the word, with the focus on the ‘journey’ and discovering the ‘Ocean State of Mind’.

Speaking with LATTE aboard Explora Journeys’ first of six ships, EXPLORA I, Austin said for travel advisors speaking to the unconverted cruiser it takes “lots of training, focused on how to present the brand while trying to avoid the use of the word ‘cruise‘.”

EXPLORA I's Lobby and Lobby Bar

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Austin’s obviously not against cruising given his long-spanning career specialising in the field.

“We’re proud of this industry and proud to be cruising but if the goal is to grow the new-to-cruise market, but the word cruise is a barrier, it’s obvious, that nomenclature is critical with the brand. To be very thoughtful about how we talk about the ship, our hosts (not crew), our terraces (not balconies), it creates a level of differentiation,” Austin explains.

“Avoiding the word cruise allows a guest to perhaps connect with us a little bit more, and we’re designed to be more of a luxury resort that happens to be at sea.

“Guests are saying ‘wow, this feels like a hotel’, and that’s what Explora Journeys is aiming to encourage.

Chris Austin, Chief Sales Officer, Explora Journeys
EXPLORA I at Qaqortoq, Greenland.

Austin said Explora Journeys’ itineraries have been intentionally designed to be more relaxed with built-in days at sea to showcase how stunning the vessel is.

EXPLORA I and her sister ships have the largest available deck space in operation, Austin beams, coupled with four pools including one indoor with a retractable roof.

“You look at space and you look at choices and this is what people want.”

“When you are trying to attract new-to-ocean these are the first things they are going to ask for.

“Cruise ships have small cabins. Well we don’t. We have the largest suite in the industry as a lead-in.”

Expansive corridors and walkways abound aboard EXPLORA I

One approach Explore Journeys is using to help lure new-to-ocean cruising guests is being careful with wording when presenting the product.

“Don’t say you have something better for them to experience. Or, next holiday you’re not going to go to your favourite hotel or resort. But instead combine the two, at least for the first time.”

“If I said to a client, I know you like Six Senses but I’ve got something far better, already they are starting to be defensive. Whereby if I say, I know you love Six Senses and you’ve never been to Ibiza and never been to Six Senses in Ibiza, plus I’ve got this other new resort that I’d love for you to go to where you’ll actually see multiple places. How about we put the two together and create a 14 day itinerary? I’m sure the response will be ‘this sounds interesting, tell me more.”

Lobby Bar, EXPLORA I

Austin also called on travel advisors to “lean in”, explaining it’s a resort at sea and eventually during the conversation disclose that it’s a cruise. “But by then you’ve already got people interested.”

“The new-to-ocean category will balance beautifully with people who love cruising, love the ocean, love everything about shipping, love that you unpack once, go to multiple destinations, have multiple dining options to experience, and world-class entertainment. Pretty soon, they will be part of that same crowd,” he concluded.

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